Count me among the Democrats in U.S. Representative Pete Stark’s district who believe he should retire, and that if he doesn’t, we should vote him out of office to avoid further embarrassment. Unfortunately, his current challengers don’t appear very attractive.
At a public candidate forum, Stark repeatedly asserted that Eric Swalwell, his chief primary opponent, had accepted bribes, sought to dismantle unions, and hadn’t voted in recent elections. Stark repeated these personal attacks multiple times, despite repeated objections by the moderator. Stark’s campaign later issued a half-hearted “apology.”
All of Stark’s allegations appear to be completely unfounded. The kindest interpretation is that Mr. Stark is incompetent; the more plausible interpretation is that Mr. Stark is unethical and dishonest. No interpretation could justify my voting for Mr. Stark again.
I don’t know if Stark or his staff planned this, but of course many “neutral” Google searches for election information (using Stark’s and Swalwell’s names) now bring up the reckless bribery accusation in many of the first-page results.
I also can’t identify any accomplishments or actions by Mr. Stark, other than “serving as a loyal Democrat,” in the past decade. Don’t misunderstand me: I appreciate and agree with most of Mr. Stark’s votes. But we deserve more from our Representative in Congress.
Unfortunately, I’m struggling to decide whether there’s a viable alternative. Both challengers, Eric Swalwell and Chris Pareja, seem more focused on attacking Mr. Stark than offering positive ideas.
To his credit, Mr. Pareja, now in his second run against Stark, clearly states his positions on most important issues. It took only a few minutes to verify that Mr. Pareja, although self-identified as Independent, is really a “Tea Party Republican,” whose views are antithetical to mine.
Mr. Swalwell is a Democrat, but I haven’t been able to identify his positions on most issues. Health care isn’t even mentioned on Pareja’s web site, though I was slightly comforted to see, in a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, that Swalwell said he supported the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”), including the “individual mandate.” However, he’s still an “unknown,” with very limited political experience.
As you’d expect, Stark is endorsed by nearly all current and recent statewide office holders in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the notable exception of former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (Swalwell briefly worked in her Washington office; she hasn’t endorsed either candidate).
Note: After the 2010 census, the boundaries of California’s congressional districts were changed; my home and Mr. Stark’s, along with about half of the area of the previous 13th Congressional District, are now part of the 15th Congressional District.